TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2022
...calls sacred Nietzche to mind: Roxane Gay is a good decent person—so why did she write what she did?
On Sunday, she wrote a guest essay in the New York Times about the deeply unfortunate plight of basketball star Brittney Griner.
Just so you can picture her, Brittney Griner is a woman, plus she's black and she's gay. Also, Griner is under arrest in Russia, where she plays basketball—where she used to play basketball—during the WNBA's off-season.
She has confessed to the unwitting commission of a fairly minor crime—and she may be looking ahead to years in a Russian penal colony.
Griner is facing a terrible plight—but she isn't exactly alone. According to Gay's essay, there are "reportedly more than 60 Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad."
Griner's case "is receiving more attention than most," Gay wrote in paragraph 4, "but that’s not saying much." And yet, for reasons which our tribes badly needs to consider, Gay started her essay as shown, headline included:
GAY (7/17/22): Brittney Griner Is Trapped and Alone. Where’s Your Outrage?
When unspeakable tragedies occur, people often call for unity. They’ll say, “We are Boston Strong” or “Je suis Charlie” or “We are [insert wherever or whomever the unthinkable has happened to].” It’s a laudable instinct to claim solidarity with those who have suffered, to imagine we truly understand the ways we are all connected, to proclaim that what affects one of us affects all of us.
With the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner wrongfully detained in Russia for more than four months because a small amount of hashish oil was allegedly found in her luggage, I’m wondering why we haven’t seen more of a groundswell of demands for her release. In the attention economy, Ms. Griner’s predicament seems as if it’s being somewhat ignored.
The media is, at least, covering the story, and some rights groups and athletes have spoken up, but that isn’t enough. More public pressure for action is necessary. “We are B.G.” should be a viral rallying cry, but it isn’t—and why? Is it misogyny? Racism? Homophobia? The unholy trifecta?
Gay wonders why Griner's plight isn't receiving more attention—why various people aren't showing more outrage about her terrible plight.
Before she tells us anything more, Gay hits us with three tribally mandated possible explanations. It could be our misogyny, she says. Or it could be our racism. Or maybe our homophobia!
As we'll remind you below, this presentation doesn't seem to make sense. Meanwhile, Roxane Gay is a good decent person—so why would she structure as essay like this?
Also, why would the geniuses at the New York Times publish an essay like this? Before we take another step, let's try to get clear on the lack of logic:
According to Gay, at least sixty people are wrong fully detained abroad, much as Griner is. Also according to Gay, Griner's case "is receiving more attention than most" of these other cases.
In fact, that's a giant understatement. Griner's case is receiving vastly more attention than these other cases. The odds are very good that you can't even cite the name of any of these other unfortunate people.
Sixty others are being detained; Griner's case is receiving more attention than these other cases. But then again, so what?
Before she even notes these facts, Gay unloads a trio of familiar tribal bombs. If not for our racism / misogyny / homophobia, the outrage about Griner's case would be much more strong!
On its face, that doesn't make sense. If you can't spot the illogic there, there's no way we can help you.
("Explanations [must] come to an end somewhere." So the later Wittgenstein instantly wrote, in a different context.)
On its face, Gay's presentation doesn't make sense. But if it doesn't make logical sense, it does fulfill well-known tribal mandates. It makes 100 percent perfect sense in terms of our modern tribe's controlling Identity Rules.
By now, we all know what these mandates are. In the end, however well-intended our subsequent behaviors might be, they're ugly and stupid and wrong.
They're also deeply self-defeating. Our highly self-impressed blue tribe is steadily sinking beneath the sea as we let our assistant, associate and adjunct professors push this dumb culture along.
Gay bowed to our identity gods before she stated the most basic facts. She was observing the mandated identity rules which form the increasingly noxious fuel by which our failing tribe runs:
Before we mention anything else, we're required to drop our R-bombs. Gay threw in an M-bomb and an H-bomb to complete a truly "unholy trifecta."
The gods of identity say we must do this. Gay complied with their edicts, and the New York Times waved her work on.
On its face, her presentation doesn't make sense, but that's only in the logical realm. By the rules which now govern our tribe, no other approach could be offered.
We love to drop our identity bombs, fulfilling our the identity rules which come from our tribal gods. Increasingly, quite a few Others shun our tribe for this incessant behavior:
Can anyone say that they're wrong?
Tomorrow: Gay made us think of Robert Fulghum—but mainly of sacred Nietzsche